We have developed a non-drug treatment for children with ADHD (Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and made it available around the world. Our treatment is in the form of computer software which provides a fun "wizard in training" themed environment to help children train to improve important abilities such as memory, impulse control, and attention control. The training software was available commercially from 2013 to 2016 and has been available free-of-charge since January 2017.
To date, many thousands of children have used the treatment and experienced benefits such as better control of their behaviour, better concentration in the classroom, and more effective completion of schoolwork. Parents and teachers have reported significant reductions in the typical symptoms of ADHD such as inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive behaviours. Crucially, we have provided a non-drug treatment alternative to parents, and we have a substantial amount of research evidence that supports the benefits of the treatment.
3. Good health and well-being
9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Details of the Impact
Stimulant-based medication (such as Ritalin) is commonly used to treat the symptoms of ADHD, but this approach has many worrying side-effects and parents are concerned about long-term treatment using medication. We decided to develop a non-drug treatment alternative, starting in early 2006, in response to parent concerns and a NSW state government report confirming the lack of evidence-based alternatives to medication.
Over the next 6 years we conducted research studies and simultaneously developed the world’s first evidence-based training system for the improvement of behavioural control in children with ADHD. The system is highly innovative as it brings together working memory and impulse-control training, and also incorporates attention training using objective attention levels obtained via a wireless brain electrical activity (EEG) recording device. Further, the training is presented in a game format, to promote engagement and compliance. A series of research studies conducted in Australia and China have reported the substantial behavioural and cognitive benefits of the treatment.
Driven by a desire to make this treatment alternative available to as many children and families as possible, in 2012 an industry partner was secured to develop commercial-grade software, and research continued into the efficacy of the approach. In early 2013 the treatment was embodied as a commercially available software product with the licensee establishing distribution contracts in Australia, Canada, USA, Germany, UK, and China.
On a societal level, this program of research has resulted in demonstrable global benefit by bringing to market an affordable, research-supported, non-drug treatment program for children with ADHD. For example, over 5200 user accounts have been created on the software server. The software allows parents to provide scores on ADHD symptoms before and after completion of the program. Data from the server indicates that many end users of the product are reporting positive outcomes. Starting January 2017, the training system has been available free-of-charge to people from around the world while further licensing agreements are negotiated. The system has been provided to parents and children from various European countries, USA, Australia, China, Korea, Russia, and many other countries.
On an individual level, completion of the training program has a substantial impact for the child via normalisation of behaviour, improved peer relationships, reduction of exposure to medication-based treatments, and improved academic performance. Importantly, the training outcomes also impact their family (via less disruptive behaviour; improved family harmony), their classroom teachers and peers (via less disruptive behaviour), and their school more broadly (via improved academic performance of the child).
Research studies currently underway are set to More closely assess the impact of the training in the classroom (in collaboration with Dr Jiang at Hangzhou College of Early Childhood Teachers’ Education at Zhejiang Normal University in China)
- To look at the contribution of each of the training targets (i.e. memory, impulse control, attention control) to benefits with a view to customising training based on each particular child's needs (in collaboration with Prof Li at the Institute of Mental Health at Peking University in China)
- Compare training outcomes to medication treatment-as-usual (in collaboration with Dr Qin at the Centre for Cognition and Sleeping (CCS), People’s Hospital of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in Nanning in China).
- Children with ADHD (5200) - Reduced ADHD symptoms; improved behaviour; improved peer relations; improved academic outcomes.
- Parents and families of children with ADHD (5200+) - Less disruptive behaviour in the home; less disruptive behaviour in school.
- Teachers (5200) - Less disruptive behaviour in the classroom; improved academic outcomes.
- South Korea
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States